Flu season has arrived

Although Ann McFall said she hears sniffling and coughs, her family has so far been able to dodge the flu this season.
Krystle Wagner
Dec 28, 2013

The Spring Lake woman said her family has been warding of the flu by getting vaccinated, taking vitamins, washing their hands and using hand sanitizer.

“It seems to be working out,” she said.

Influenza (commonly called the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses, which can cause mild to severe illness, and could at times lead to death.

Ottawa County has had six confirmed influenza cases so far this year, with more than 6,400 cases of flu-like illnesses as strains of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and influenza B viruses circulate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there have been 1,156 confirmed influenza cases throughout the country since Oct. 1. Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and New York have experienced widespread and high-level influenza-like illness activity for the 2013-14 season.

Each year, about 36,000 Americans die from flu-related complications and more than 200,000 are hospitalized from flu-related causes each year.

Robin Wolters, the clinical supervisor at the North Ottawa Community Health System's Urgent Care Center, said they’ve had one patient referred to the emergency room who later tested positive for influenza.

Some symptoms of the flu include a fever, sore throat, cough, muscle or body aches, headache, and fatigue.

Residents who have the seasonal flu can infect others from the first day before getting sick up to seven days later.

Vaccine manufacturers are expected to make between 138 million and 145 million doses of the vaccination for the United States this year. It takes about two weeks for antibodies from the vaccination to protect someone against a flu virus infection.

Although the CDC guidelines state that October is the ideal time to receive a flu vaccination, it still isn’t too late.

Health officials also recommend people should cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze; wash hands often with soap and water; avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth; stay home if you're not feeling well; and avoid contact with people who are sick.

Kristina Wieghmink, spokeswoman for the Ottawa County Health Department, said the flu can have serious complications for people with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease; pregnant women; children younger than age 5 and adults older than 65; or anyone with a weakened immune system.


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